Petersburg woman in danger of losing home of 50 years

Petersburg woman in danger of losing home of 50 years
90-year-old Berline Parker (middle) is about to lose her home (Source: NBC12)

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - The family of an elderly Petersburg woman calls 12 On Your Side asking for help because she's about to lose her home. The notice given to 90-year-old Berline Parker says her house is about to go up for auction, and she didn't understand why.

NBC12 reporter Ashley Monfort has helped Ms. Parker before and took the call. After some digging, she found out there have been some issues with the reverse mortgage she took out on her home. It's a situation attorneys at Central Virginia Legal Aid Society says affects many elderly homeowners.

For 50 years, Berline Parker has lived in the same house on Commerce Street in Petersburg. She bought it with her husband right after they got married.

"We were crazy about it," she said. "I'm still crazy about it."

Through the decades, there have been hardships. In a short amount of time, she lost her only daughter and husband. Both had dementia.

Then last year, her pipe burst and water had to be brought in for weeks; thanks to a call to 12 On Your Side, Stemmle Plumbing volunteered to redo her kitchen and bathroom.

Ms. Parker's loved ones decided to call NBC12 once again, because she's been ordered to move out by Saturday. A notice on the door says her house is owned by Fannie Mae and will go up for auction.

"I've been here all this many years," says Parker. "I don't know why they want to take my house. I don't know what's going on."

Her niece, Marion Moore, is trying to help her, and says she wasn't getting any answers from the realtor on the notice.

"I cried, because just the thought of it worried me. Like she said, where could she go?" says Moore.

NBC12 went down to the Petersburg courthouse and found out that ten years ago, Parker and her husband took out a reverse mortgage. Somewhere down the line, requirements weren't met and the house went into foreclosure this year.

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society says there are three things that must be completed for a reverse mortgage:

"Pay the taxes, make sure the insurance is current at all time and maintain the property," says Martin Wegbreit with Central VA Legal Aid Society.

According to online records, her city taxes are current, but it turns out she does not have homeowner's insurance. Wegbreit says the government probably paid for it.

"Then if the borrower does not reimburse them, or repay them, for that money paid for the homeowner's insurance, then that's what triggers the foreclosure," he said.

Wegbreit says this happens often with elderly, low-income homeowners. Many times, they have not kept up with the paperwork. His best advice: pay attention to the mail coming in and ask for help if you don't understand it.

Moore says Parker's husband took care of a lot of the paperwork, but because he suffered from dementia and died suddenly, that's where paperwork may have gotten lost or unnoticed.

Moore says Parker was offered several thousand dollars for relocation fees, but she's still not sure what her next steps will be.

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